Vancouver Island for a night and 2 days

Dec 1st, 2012, 01:41 PM
  #1  
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Vancouver Island for a night and 2 days

Now I have the Ontario to Vancouver part of our trip to Canada sussed, I am working on Vancouver, and in particular Vancouver Island. It looks as if we will have time for 2 days there, 1 night, depending on the travelling time from Vancouver.. I have been trying to find information on the internet as to how long it takes for the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, and what the real must-sees-and-dos are. Not had any luck so far after looking at several sites. Is any kind Vancouver / Vancouver Island-based person able to assist with this please?
-we are in our middle 60s,
-like wildlife, Nature, history and local culture;
-don't like long walks / hikes(arthritis), swimming beaches, extreme sports.
-would love a recommendation for a comfortable middle-of-the-road hotel.
-are there any day tours around Vancouver Island?
Thank you.
dottyp is offline  
Dec 1st, 2012, 09:40 PM
  #2  
 
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With a 90+ minute ferry ride each way added to marshaling time you're looking @ least a couple hours each day and honestly you have little time to do anything except arrive and then leave -the Island is 300 miles long and 50 wide.

Also remember you'll need a ferry reservation each way http://www.bcferries.com/

So you could take the ferry to Swartz Bay early then drive to somewhere like Sidney or Victoria or even the Cowichan Valley/spend the rest of a day/part of the next day and catch a late ferry back-quite expensive/hurried and only you can decide if it's worth your while just to say you've been.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Dec 7th, 2012, 05:45 PM
  #3  
 
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if you want to extend your time on the island and have the funds you can take a float plane. harbourair.com. it's not inexpensive, but it's quick. it goes from coal harbour in vancouver near the convention centre or from the south terminal area @ yvr to the inner harbour in victoria. you fly relatively low so its actually a sight seeing flight over the gulf islands.

there are lots of attractions w/i walking distance of the harbour ( or by bus or cab) including the royal bc museum , the legislature, victoria's compact downtown, the walkway along the harbour to west bay marina, a water excursion on the little harbour ferries which can take you both across the harbour and up the gorge. craigdarroch castle and the art gallery of victoria are under a half hour walk from the float plane. you can take the # 7 bus from dt to the abkhazi garden which has a romantic story attached to it. beacon hill park our "central park" is a short walk from the harbour and runs down to the ocean w/ a 2 km off lead do g romp on the cliffs above the beach and on a windy day a chance to see kite surfers

cheers
AndrewDavid
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Dec 8th, 2012, 10:48 PM
  #4  
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Thank you both for your helpful suggestions. As usual I shall absorb them and work out how we can fit everything into the time we have available! I shall look into the floatplane suggestion Andrew but I think it might not be financially possible, not on the end of 2 and a half months in Europe! I shall not completely scrap the thought though!

Are you the AndrewDavid who used to post on the Australia site, especially about Queensland?

Dot
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Dec 16th, 2012, 04:43 AM
  #5  
ltt
 
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the ferry ride from tawassen to swartz bay is beautiful. i took the float plane once, was stuck in the middle, back seat and didn't get to see any of the beautiful scenary.
ltt is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 10:36 PM
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Hey, AndrewDavid. I thought about what you said and so we are booked on the float plane to fly back to Vancouver after our visit to Vancouver Island, although I've got a funny feeling we may not see anything as we fly at 6PM. You are right, it is not inexpensive but . . . ! And thank you so much for all the ideas of what we can do on the island. We will cram what we can into the time available.
dottyp is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 08:09 PM
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Dot , yes i am i was on the forum, extensively when my ex and i planned a 5 week visit to australia in 2003 i believe and followed it up w/ a fairly extensive trip report. we had gotten such great advice here and met many of the main fodorites at the time on that board. johnj and neil cammack and their wives visited us here or in santa fe from where i immigrated to victoria 7 years ago. i am now a proud permanent resident of canada

where are you coming from?

the float planes only fly in daylight so you should have good views. when are you here.

cheers
AndrewDavid

ps. if you ask, you can fly in the co pilot seat if it is one of the single pilot planes and talk w/ the pilot!
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Dec 18th, 2012, 09:09 PM
  #8  
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HI, AndrewDavid,

I thought it was you. I read your posts about your trip, which sounded fantastic, and the help you offered fellow posters.
No wonder you are so knowledgeable about what to do on Vancouver Island. Maybe sitting in the co-pilot's seat will help cure my fear of flying! You know, I used to watch the float planes come into Porirua when I was a little girl staying with my grandparents, and thought they were so exciting and special.
DH and I are coming from Wellington, NZ. As DH retires on Friday and I have said next year is my last year of teaching, I decided it was a now-or-never trip, and decided it had to be now - as in September / October on the way home from Europe.
I am so excited about accomplishing a dream of mine of the last 55-odd years since a great uncle used to send me first day covers from Brantford, and Mum and Dad calendars, one of which had a beautiful picture of Banff National Park (I still have the picture!). DH doesn't know a thing yet, but will on Christmas Day!!
dottyp is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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Hi dot, my mom was a very nervous flyer. she and my father went to their graves confusing vancouver island on which i live and vancouver, the city. they repeated flew in vancouver rather than victoria and guess who had to fetch them . on one trip i took the ferry over and drove them back. on the return i couldn't do that so i proposed the float plane ( which flies both down town and to the near the vancouver airport. we went down to the inner harbour to kick the pontoons and my mom said she's try it. she ended up in the co pilot's seat.

a few month's later i was flying to vancouver and in the co pilot's seat. i related my mom's pleasure and it turned out it was the same pilot who flew my mom and dad. he said my mom was so comfortable that she asked him if he could fly them all the way to nyc. classic unclear about the concept thinking eh

cheers
AndrewDavid
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Dec 20th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Vancouver Island is too big for a day trip "around the island". With only a day or two there, you really have to stay put in one area and explore that immediate vicinity.

Just for fun, I put this map together. Take a look at Vancouver Island's size compared to the North Island of New Zealand: http://mapfrappe.com/?show=7878 - if Victoria is Gisborne, the north end of Vancouver Island is Kaipara Harbour. Vancouver Island is mountainous with one main highway up the eastern coastline and small highways fork off that main eastern highway heading to the west coast of the island.

The west coast of Vancouver Island, in my opinion, is the most spectacular side because that's where there's still old growth rainforest and incredible

Victoria (the biggest city on Vancouver Island at its southern end) is a colonial city developed in the mid 1800s by Scottish coal barons and British pioneers hoping to turn Vancouver Island into a mini England. As a result, the architecture, the gardens, and its colonial culture won't seem unfamiliar. But it lacks that same feeling of wilderness that other parts of the island have.

The Pacific Rim National Park is, in my opinion, a must, and it would certainly tick off the checklist of your interest - but you won't have time to go there, as it takes 5 hours to get there from either Vancouver or Victoria... unless you flew from the Vancouver Int'l Airport to the Tofino Airport and then rented a car to get around.

Fortunately with Victoria, the city is tiny and you can walk around its inner harbour. There are a lot of great tourist attractions - the Royal BC Museum (worth 2+ hours), the BC Parliament Buildings, Emily Carr House, Dallas Road (coastline), Craigdarroch Castle, Chinatown's Fan Tan Alley, etc. You can take a bus out to Butchart Gardens which is worth 2 hours. It's a very pleasant place, quite different in feel from Vancouver. The seaplane ride is certainly a fun way of travelling there. But just realize by visiting Victoria, you are really just staying in the southern end of the island, and you are not getting out to visit Vancouver Island's wildlife and nature as much as you would elsewhere.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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Oops! I realize I didn't finish my sentence.

"The west coast of Vancouver Island, in my opinion, is the most spectacular side because that's where there's still old growth rainforest and incredible beaches, sunsets, short nature walks, wildlife. It feels like you've gone back in time. A very lush, ethereal place"
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Dec 20th, 2012, 10:43 PM
  #12  
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Thank you, Robyn, for your very useful input. Quite fascinating, the map. It certainly puts the size of Vancouver Island into perspective, and gives me an idea of what might be possible in the time we have. I have added your post to the document I have prepared on things to do on V.I. Once my DH knows about the trip (Christmas Day is when he will learn about it) then we will put together an outline of what we hope to do. I will post that under a new heading.

AndrewDavid - I am starting the "I can do it" mantra now!! Mind you, I have survived a 10-seater plane 40 minute flight from Rarotonga to Atiu Island because I was determined to meet George the Birdman and see the endangered and interesting birds there! I'm sure the same will hold true for the float plane.
dottyp is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2012, 04:47 PM
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dot, although the ferry ride is beautiful for meeting schedules it's not as efficient. i always go over on the float planes unless they are cancelled due to fog. you will really enjoy i believe

happy new year to you and yours
AndrewDavid

ps. about 2 hours drive up the west cost from victoria is port renfrew with the fabulous botanical beach provincial park ( best at low tide) and a newly protected grove of ancient big trees. you will probably see bears somewhere along the road or near the entrance to the park. there is a good pub on the water at the government dock in port renfrew
AndrewDavid is offline  
Jan 5th, 2013, 11:56 AM
  #14  
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And a Happy New Year to you, too, AndrewDavid. I have a query regarding Port Renfrew, please. Is there public transport heading that way, or do we need to hire a car? I would like to have a look up there but am a little hesitant about driving and sightseeing at the same time!

Thanks.
Dot
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Jan 5th, 2013, 08:04 PM
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Hi Dot.. and Hi AndrewDavid. I remember when you moved up from Santa Fe. I'm glad to hear you are a permanent resident of Canada.
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Jan 6th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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good thread..have been reading with interest...we are going to vancouver albeit in winter and instead of heading to seattle we might just concentrate on exploring the island

just wonder weather the winter weather and short days will harrass us too much!
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Jan 28th, 2013, 10:31 AM
  #17  
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bumping up for Janet
dottyp is offline  
Jan 28th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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sorry dot, i missed your query. if there is a bus it would be infrequent. the scenery is attractive but the real bang is when you get out of a vehicle and get up close and personal w/ nature!
i think a car would be good. if there were a bus to port renfrew you'd still be a few km or so from places like botanical beach

hit kodi,thanks. i believe i can forward my citizenship application by the end of march. trying to calculate days in and days out of the country is boggling. i have never come up w/ the same # twice!

lanejohann, well it is canada ! the winter weather in vancouver will probably be wet and cool.

here in victoria w/ have less rain and (slightly) warmer temps in winter than vancouver. in my opinion seattle has more indoor attractions than vancouver and could be more appealing in winter. vancouver is set spectacularly, but best appreciated in summer weather unless you have ducks in your family tree

cheers
AndrewDavid
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